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timothydhalleine contributor

Hiking the Torres del Paine "O" Trek 6/9

Day 6: French Valley (28 km / 17 mi)

Being a French guy myself, I was  very curious about this Valley which many have called “the most beautiful valley in Patagonia”. If you ever come to Torres del Paine, you can even explore it on a day hike if you take  a boat from a place called Pudeto. However the best way to hike through this epic place is to hike the W trek or Paine Circuit, as it gives you plenty of time to reach the most remote lookout, which is called the “British Lookout”.

Since we had good weather, we decided to wake up so we could make it to the lookout. We hiked into the wind for a couple of hours and faced “The Horns” (Los Cuernos), a unique geological formation that mixes granite and sedimentary rock to create a landscape that reminded me of “The Lord of the Rings”.

The French Valley is truly dramatic, surrounded by wild mountains that will make you feel like you’re in one of the classic adventure movies many of us watched as teenagers (or are still watching!). As we entered the valley on a suspension bridge, I heard the roaring noise of an avalanche. You can see them all day long as you hike along Mt. Paine Grande, the highest peak in the National Park (3050 meters / 10000 feet). The mountain is covered by ice and you will not believe your eyes if you have never seen a mountain glacier before.

Mt. Paine Grande, the highest peak in Torres del Paine National Park Mt. Paine Grande, the highest peak in Torres del Paine National Park

We hiked up for about 3 and a half hours before reaching the British Lookout. This spot offers a 360° view of peaks you would not be able to see otherwise and gives travelers the best scale of the granite that made this National Park so famous. It is a splendid mix of rocks and trees that I would definitely put it amongst the best views of the circuit.

The British Lookout is one of the most rewarding views in the area The British Lookout is one of the most rewarding views in the area

My legs were ready for that long day of hiking, but reaching the Frances Refuge was a relief and we were all happy to stretch because of the steepness of the trail. Hikers who keep hiking for a couple of hours can reach another campsite and refuge called Los Cuernos.

#Patagoniao